This is what you need to know to distinguish Male, Female and Hermaphrodite cannabis plants in your garden or grow room – and avoid seeds in your harvest. I have an indoor growroom and in my recent harvest I found seeds in the buds, but I’m sure there are no male plants in the room. Hermaphrodite cannabis: What is hermaphroditism, what causes it, what signs to look out for, and what to do with a hermie cannabis plant.
How To Spot: Male, Female and Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
You don’t have to be an expert on the plant to at some point have encountered the term ‘feminized’ in relation to cannabis seeds. As the name suggests, this means cannabis plants can be either female or male and in some cases have both sexes. This is what you need to know to spot Male, Female and Hermaphrodite cannabis plants in your garden:
Male Or Female Cannabis Plants
Before we dive into the more complicated matter when it comes to sexing a cannabis plant, let’s start with some basics. Cannabis plants are so called ‘dioecious plants’ (‘di-‘ is ‘two’ in Greek; ‘oikia’ means ‘house’). This means they produce either male of female reproductive organs, known as the flowers. In contrast to ‘monoecious plants’, which produce two different types of flowers on the same plant.
The cannabis plants most consumers know and love are often female. As these are the plants that produce the smokeable flowers – the dried buds – but which can also be grown at home. These weed flowers, buds, or ‘colas’ are covered in trichomes / resin which holds the plant’s active components, like cannabinoids and terpenes. Male cannabis plants however are less popular with consumers, as their only task in life is to release pollen into the air.
Feminized Cannabis Seeds
When pollen from a male cannabis plant reaches a female cannabis flower, the female flower will start producing seeds with traits from both plants involved. That’s great for growers that like crossbreeding strains and develop their own cannabis varieties. But if you’re growing for your personal consumption, you might want to avoid pollination. Not only do seeds add a harsh taste to your smoke. Producing them also takes a lot of energy from the plant. Costly energy that should rather be put into the development of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
The best thing you can do to guarantee you’ll grow female cannabis plants, is to purchase feminized cannabis seeds. In contrast to regular cannabis seeds, which will grow 50/50 males and females, feminized seeds guarantee for 98% to grow into female cannabis plants.
So even if you use feminized seeds, it is advised to keep a close eye and determine the sex of the plant as soon as you can. As there’s always a small chance at finding a male plant in your garden which could screw up your harvest, or for the plant to turn from female to hermaphrodite and develop both sexes on one cannabis plant; as we’ll explain later on.
Female Cannabis Plants
The sex of cannabis plants can be determined by looking for the first signs of bloom on the plant. These are visible a few days to a week after you switch your light to 12/12 and give your plant the sign to switch from the growth stage to the flowering stage of its life cycle . Outdoors, the same signal is given by nature as soon as the days grow shorter than 14 hours after the summer solstice.
Female cannabis plants are easy to spot once they start showing the first signs of flowering
Female weed plants are distinguished by the development of bracts with small white hairs (stigma’s) on their nodes. A node is the part of the plant where branches and leaves emerge from the stem. After a while, the female plant starts pushing out more and more of these hairs until they swell up from the bottom up. This means the plant is now forming ‘calyxes’ that eventually stack up to become the flower as we know it.
Pollination And Seeds
These ‘calyxes’ remain empty as long as the plant is not pollinated by a male plant. When it does get pollinated, these calyxes will fill up to hold and protect the plant’s babies: seeds. It is even thought that the resin on weed plants serves only that purpose in nature: to protect the plant’s offspring from burning in the sun.
Discover our Feminized Chocolato cannabis strain (White Choco x Gelato) here!
Male Cannabis Seeds
Male Cannabis Plants are recognized by the formation of pollen sacs on the plant’s nodes. This happens around the same time as female reproductive organs should be forming. Although female plants tend to develop their reproductive organs a bit faster. Luckily, these male pollen sacs can be distinguished pretty easily. As they look like small balls hanging from the side of the plant; instead of the upward facing hairs from the female plant.
Male Cannabis Plants form small ball-shaped pollen sacs on their nodes
When left to grow, these balls will eventually open up like a flower and release pollen into the air. As we’ve explained, this pollen is only interesting when you’re trying to make your own strains or seeds. If you’re not making seeds, make sure to remove every male plant from your garden or grow room before this happens. Do it with the upmost care, as rocking the plant could force it to release the pollen.
Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
The first paragraph of this article explains cannabis plants grow only one set of reproductive organs. Although there is still a ‘but’ to this. Because there always remains the possibility that female cannabis plants form male reproductive organs too. This usually happens when the plant(s) experience excessive stress. And in times of stress, they try to guarantee the survival of their species. Cannabis plants can do so by turning hermaphrodite, or ‘herma’ in grower terms.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants develop both female and male reproductive organs
Because when cannabis plants turn ‘hermaphrodite’, they do so in order to pollinate themselves. Turning hermaphrodite is an evolutionary strategy of cannabis plants, designed to save the species in hard times.It allows the plant to produce seeds no matter what; even when there are no males around (for example, because the source of the ‘stress’ killed off all male plants).
How To Prevent Stress From Turning Female Cannabis Into Hermaphrodites
Some cannabis strains are more sensitive to stress than others. Stress can arise from a number of sources, from overly enthusiastic pruning and topping to environmental factors like excessive temperatures, water shortage or surplus, soil acidity or overfeeding and lack of nutrients. It is good to know that cannabis is called a ‘weed’ for a reason: this is a hardy species with great natural resilience. Still, most cannabis seeds you can order online are crossbreeds cultivated for specific traits like taste or THC content. Years of crossbreeding and hybridization have created some strains that are more prone to stress than their natural ancestors.
When growing strains that are sensitive to stress, growers run a risk of their cannabis plants developing hermaphroditic traits – like the well-known Original Glue (Gorilla Glue #4). In our online seeds catalogue, you’ll find certain strains that are particularly resistant to stress.
Removing Sex Organs From Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants
If for whatever reason you do spot hermaphrodite cannabis plants, all is not lost. You just have to act fast and be cautious. To avoid hermaphrodite cannabis plants from pollinating themselves, carefully remove the male reproductive organs that form on the nodes. You can do so by gently taking a pollen sac in between two fingers and twisting/pulling it off. Wash your hands thoroughly before you go near your female plants – you don’t want to cause accidental pollination because of your dirty fingers! This way you can still have a satisfying harvest from any hermaphrodite, without having to pluck the seeds from your buds.
TIP: If you want to try and create your own unique strains, you can learn more about growing regular seeds in this blog.
TIP: For anyone trying to avoid raising hermaphrodites, check our info on the benefits of buying feminized seeds here.
I have an indoor growroom and in my recent harvest I found seeds in the buds, but I’m sure there are no male plants in the room. I’ve heard that light leakage can cause plants to become hermaphrodites. Is this true, and if so, do you have any tips for avoiding this?
Cannabis plants are monecious. This means they have the ability to be either male or female. Or in the case of hermaphroditism, they can be both. The reason to make sure there are no males or hermaphrodites in your garden is because male flowers make pollen. When pollen touches the white hairs on a flower, it makes a seed, and seeded weed gives you headaches. Even though there are reasons in nature hermaphroditism could be important, such as continuing the species in case there is no male present, hermaphroditism is generally a bad thing when talking about cannabis plants.
Light poisoning is the most common cause for a normal plant to hermaphrodite.
Light poisoning refers to the flowering night cycle of a plant being unnaturally interrupted with light. The best way to prevent this is to close yourself inside your darkened room during the daylight, and then after allowing a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, check for any light leaks from covered windows, door jams, etc. Also cover all timer and appliance lights with tape.
Negative stressors can combine with small interruptions of the light cycle to cause hermaphroditism, especially with less-stable, clone-only hybridized strains. When the night cycle is abnormally interrupted, it sends a mixed hormonal signal to the plant. This can cause a full female plant to throw some male flowers. Male flowers are easy to identify, especially when side by side with female flowers. Male flowers look like small bunches of bananas, which will take a week or two to swell before they burst and release their pollen.
Finding a hermaphrodite in your growroom can happen at any stage of the flowering cycle and is indicated by the presence of male flowers growing on the same plant as female flowers. As with all species in nature this can occur in varying degrees. A plant can become slightly or majorly hermaphroditic. In cases where singular male flowers are found between the branch and stalk nodes, you should be diligently removing them as they grow. You must re-inspect the plant top to bottom every few days to be sure pollination and seeding doesn’t occur. If you find male flowers (anthers) actually growing from within the female flowers (buds) the situation is a little more dire. You can still remove all the male anatomy as it appears, but it will be harder to find and much more prevalent. This is a horrible discovery that leads to a tough decision: Should you let the plant live and risk the whole crop being ruined by seeds?
In either case, once hermaphroditism has compromised the safety and purity of your sensimilla, the plant should not be propagated further. Remember, once a hermy, always a hermy. The plant pictured here is in the tenth and what should have been the final week of ripening, but a timer failed and one light stayed on continuously for almost two weeks, causing this vegetative regrowth. Because the light was continuous, the plant made no pollen. This method of re-vegging can be used to save a flowering plant you have no copies of, but be careful, as this may cause some strains to hermaphrodite.
Purposefully causing a plant to hermaphrodite is called selfing. Gibberellic acid or colloidal silver is typically sprayed onto the female plant. This technique is used to make feminized seeds and uses the plant’s ability to be both male and female to force a female plant to produce male flowers. The pollen contained in these male flowers can only produce female seeds. Just keep in mind that feminized plants should not be used for breeding, as they were produced without a true male, making them genetically inferior.
Help! I’ve Grown Hermaphrodite Cannabis; What Do I Do Now?
Did you know that cannabis plants have multiple genders? You may already know that you get male or feminized strains, but hermaphrodite cannabis is an interesting phenomenon that combines both genders.
When cultivating marijuana plants, you want a smooth, straightforward experience. While hermaphrodites are not inherently bad, they often cause unnecessary stress because you end up getting a crop of over-seeded, inferior buds.
We’re here to explain what exactly a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is. We’ll also go over the different genders, signs to look out for, how to deal with and avoid this occurrence in your garden.
Genders of cannabis plants
Here’s your word for the day: Dioecious.
Dioecious means that cannabis plants have individualized male or female reproductive organs. In the case of hermaphrodite marijuana, you get a unique plant that has both.
Like humans and animals, the plant kingdom has more than one gender. Gender equality has no place in the cannabis kingdom, though, as females are far superior. That’s because females are the only plants that produce consumable buds.
That’s not to say that each gender doesn’t serve a purpose. Even hermaphrodite cannabis has its place in the natural survival of the species. If you want to know more, find out how to tell if your plant is male or female before flowering.
Let’s dive into the characteristics of each gender.
In the cycle of life, reproduction is an innate desire in most living organisms. Unlike a cannabis hermaphrodite, a male has exclusively masculine characteristics.
Male cannabis plants grow sacs that produce pollen. Their primary purpose is to mate and spend their lifetime gifting surrounding females with heaps of pollen. They’re only good for breeding and seed collection despite their gentlemanly behavior.
When you get a hermaphrodite marijuana plant, put it to good use for these male qualities.
To identify a male cannabis plant, examine the stalks and the leaves. Males have thicker stalks and fewer leaves. They grow little bulbs at the joints between the branches and the main stalk.
When hermaphrodite cannabis or a male cannabis plant grows, you’ll see it develop quicker than a female plant. When your plant flowers, you’ll know it’s a male right away by its faster growth and absence of pistils. Growers generally use males to cross-breed and create new cannabis strains.
You’ll see no cannabis hermaphrodite signs when growing a female plant. These gorgeous plants only display good qualities. Female cannabis plants are bushier, brighter, and generally more attractive than males. After about six weeks, you’ll be able to identify one.
While both males and females grow small balls at the joints, feminized plants and the female parts of marijuana hermaphrodites grow semi-transparent hairs from those balls. These are known as pistils. They’re responsible for collecting pollen from a male.
Unlike males, females produce flowers with trichomes containing the cannabinoids most growers are after. When females are left un-pollinated and have no interference from hermaphrodite marijuana, they’ll reach their full potential.
Females grow thicker, stickier, and bigger without males, with higher yields and better cannabinoid content.
The most popular type of seed to buy is a feminized seed. Cannabis breeders engineered these seeds to grow into an all-female crop, eliminating the hassles of male or hermaphrodite cannabis plants.
Now that you know the differences between the two genders, you’ll be able to identify the dual characteristics of a hermaphrodite.
Hermies can either be true hermaphrodites or what’s known as nanners. There are distinct differences between each.
What is a hermaphrodite cannabis plant?
On Earth, life is about the survival of the fittest. The evolution of cannabis has resulted in a hermaphrodite marijuana plant, a means of survival in this harsh world.
A hermaphrodite contains equal parts, male and female. Some nodes on the plant have male pollen sacs, while other areas display female flowers. True hermaphrodites have these structures on the same site.
Self-pollination occurs when the plant takes matters into its own hands and breeds with itself. The hermie pollen sacs burst open, sending the pollen into the flowers, inducing seed production.
The seeds from a hermaphrodite almost always grow into plants with the same qualities.
What are nanners?
Some female plants end up revealing male characteristics during their flowering phase.
These plants have small growths that resemble bananas, hence the name cannabis nanners. They grow a stamen in the female flower with pollen to send to the bud sites for reproduction.
What causes hermaphroditism
Human and environmental influences are the main causes of hermaphroditism. Cannabis plants are sensitive and immediately go into survival mode if they’re stressed out.
There are several different causes of this phenomenon. We’ll cover the most common ones that result in hermaphrodite cannabis.
- Incorrect training methods: Many growers use high- or low-stress training and pruning techniques to stress a cannabis plant. When done correctly, it encourages better, healthier growth and increased yields.
When done incorrectly or poorly, it has negative effects and may result in a hermaphrodite cannabis plant.
- Prolonged flowering: Cultivating cannabis involves patience, tenderness, and a keen eye. As you become more experienced, you’ll learn how and when to harvest your crop at the right time.
The flowering stage is beautiful to watch, and you harvest the plant once it fully matures and turns darker. Watch out, though, as it’ll turn into a hermie cannabis plant if left to flower for too long. It’ll switch into survival mode and attempt to pollinate itself before dying.
- Incorrect nutrients or growing medium: To reach their full potential and produce high-quality yields of delicious nugs, cannabis plants have specific requirements.
Planting your seed in the correct soil and feeding it the proper nutrients results in a healthy cultivar. A hermaphrodite marijuana plant grows out if there is poor quality soil, a weak growing medium, or not enough/too many nutrients.
- Environmental stressors: When growing marijuana plants, you need to ensure it has the right environmental factors. They thrive in sunlight with sufficient water, pH levels, temperatures, and air circulation.
The switch to hermaphrodite marijuana growth occurs when there’s too much moisture, air, or light. Too little heat or cannabis heat stress (too much heat) also causes huge problems for your plant.
Light cycles are instrumental in the growth of cannabis plants. Invest some time in learning about the correct light cycle for weed.
Other factors that cause a switch to cannabis hermaphrodite include pest infestation, diseases, and incorrect temperature and humidity levels.
What does a hermaphrodite weed plant look like
Hermaphrodite cannabis ends up looking like a strange hybrid plant.
The joints of the branches contain both female and male bulbs. Spend some time searching for images, so you know what hermies look like. If you already know the differences between males and females, you’ll spot a hermie right away.
You also need to know what signs to look out for:
Cannabis hermaphrodite signs
Identifying a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is simple.
The following characteristics present themselves:
- When some plants begin to flower, you’ll see male and female sites. The male sites have pollen sacs, and the female sites have pistils.
- Male pollen sacs are bare bulbs, while female bulbs grow small, slender hairs.
- Other plants may only present hermaphrodite marijuana characteristics at the end of their blooming period. This happens when the plant is dying and tries to self-pollinate.
- If your plant is showing signs of stress or nutrient deficiency that goes unnoticed, it’ll automatically switch over in an effort to survive. Always keep a vigilant eye on your plant and tend to its needs to spot cannabis hermaphrodite signs.
What to do with hermaphrodite marijuana plants
When you notice male qualities on your plant, the first thing to do is to immediately move it away from any female plants you may be growing. Once you’ve isolated the plant to prevent possible pollination, you can give it a stern snipping.
Identify the male sections of the hermaphrodite cannabis and cut the entire branch or bud site off. Be careful not to shake the plant and cause the male site to release pollen.
Continue to monitor the plant to ensure no further male growth materializes. You can also remove the male sites with a pair of sterilized tweezers.
Other uses for hermaphrodite marijuana:
- Pollination and feminization: If your goal is to pollinate and breed new strains, use a small paintbrush or a cotton bud (Q-tip) to transfer the pollen to your female plants.
In the same way, learn how to make feminized seeds by pollinating your cannabis crop consistently, resulting in seeds that produce an all-female crop.
- Cannabis concentrates: Hermie pollen sacs contain THC you can extract to make fairly potent cannabis concentrates. These include hash, rosin, moon rocks, tinctures, and more. Have fun looking up various concentrates to make.
How to avoid hermaphrodite weed plants
Unless you’re planning to create a new strain, clone, or experiment with pollination, watching your beloved seeds grow into a hermaphrodite cannabis plant spells heartbreak.
To avoid this from happening, the first thing you need to do is ensure you buy seeds from reputable seed banks. Do your research and learn how to buy marijuana seeds based on genetics and THC levels.
We at Homegrown Cannabis Co. will help you avoid getting a cannabis hermaphrodite. We have a wide selection of high-quality seeds with stable genetics.
Another way to avoid hermaphroditism is to put measures in place to ensure the best environment for your crop. Refer back to the section on what causes hermaphroditism and follow the guidelines to prevent it from happening.
Hermaphrodite cannabis doesn’t occur unless there are environmental and physical stressors. Look after your precious plant, and it’ll reward you with high yields and potent buds.
FAQs on hermaphrodite cannabis
We’ve highlighted all the pertinent information regarding hermaphrodites, and these are common questions that pop up:
Can a hermaphrodite pollinate a female plant?
Yes. A hermaphrodite marijuana plant contains male pollen sacs that send pollen to surrounding female flowers. Unless your goal is pollination, isolate your hermie from the rest of your crop asap. If it pollinates your females, you’ll end up with a seeded crop.
Can you smoke hermaphrodite buds?
Yes, if you really want to. Keep in mind, though, that the buds from a hermaphrodite cannabis plant won’t be nearly as potent as buds from a female plant. You’ll still feel the effects of smoking them, but a better way to consume them is by making cannabis concentrates.
How common is hermaphroditism in cannabis?
Hermaphroditism is common, depending on certain factors. If you’ve grown your fair share of cannabis crops, chances are you’ve encountered hermaphrodite cannabis. Unfortunately, all seeds have the potential to grow into hermies. Implement and control ideal physical and environmental factors to decrease the chances of hermaphroditism.
To hermie or not to hermie?
Cannabis cultivation is full of ups and downs, joys and troubles, love and heartbreak. The common worldwide goal of growing cannabis is to enjoy the effects on offer.
Unfortunately, hermaphrodite cannabis plants can prove detrimental to your goals and interfere with the rest of your crop if pollination isn’t your plan. They’re dioecious plants, producing both male and female reproductive organs.
They’ll pollinate your females, and you’ll end up with more seeds and fewer buds. While it may break your heart to get rid of a cannabis hermaphrodite plant, you need to prevent further hermaphroditism. Ensure your seeds grow up in the best, most caring environment you can give them.
Growing hermaphrodite cannabis isn’t the end of the world, and it happens to the best of us. Learn how to identify and differentiate between cannabis genders and prevent it from happening. While you’re there, browse our selection of feminized seeds to guarantee stable genetics and an all-female crop.
About the author: Parker Curtis
Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.